Brazil v Serbia: Group G - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
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One more day until the United States' win-or-go-home showdown against Iran -- the biggest match for the Americans in eight years. Should they win, it will only get bigger from here. Welcome to Day 9 of the World Cup. Let's get to the Golazo Starting XI.

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World Cup schedule:

  • Cameroon 3, Serbia 3
  • South Korea 2, Ghana 3
  • Brazil vs. Switzerland 11 a.m. ET 
  • Portugal vs. Uruguay 2 p.m. ET

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⚽  The Forward Line

Does anybody actually want to win this thing?

We'll break down the United States' chances against Iran tomorrow. In the meantime, let's talk about how weird this tournament has been thus far. We already pointed out how muddled group-stage play has been. Only France have won their first two matches -- Portugal, Brazil or Switzerland are still in the running to do so. And the latest odds (courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook) reflect a seriously muddled picture ... except for who the standout favorite is.

Brazil came in as the favorite, though it was more a first-among-equals situation with Argentina. Now, there's no doubt Brazil are the favorites to win the tournament. Before kickoff for their second match against Switzerland, they're at only +225 to win the whole thing. That's pretty remarkable considering Neymar is hurt and may not be back until after the group stages. 

Part of the reason for Brazil's shortening odds falls on Argentina's woes. We know about the upset loss to Saudi Arabia, but Lionel Messi and Argentina then looked alarmingly conservative in their victory over Mexico. While their fate remains firmly in their own hands, the performances mean that winning their group is no longer a sure thing. In some circumstances, Argentina could fall on the opposite side of the bracket from Brazil if they advance second in their group.

When the tournament started, it looked like the two South American favorites were ticketed for the same side of the bracket. Now it looks like there are some worlds where Brazil have one side to themselves while three of the next four favorites (France and England in addition to Argentina) are on the opposite side of the bracket. Does that destroy my entire rationale for picking England to win the World Cup? Yes. I'm sure Brazil fans don't care though. 

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🔗  Midfield Link Play

So long, Canada. We hardly knew ye

Croatia officially eliminated Canada from the World Cup. Despite an early goal from Canada, the Croatian midfield of Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic took control of the game and turned it into a 4-1 laugher. Still, it's a testament to just how far Canada have come in the last four years that they're disappointed to go home. They had to qualify the long way, playing through the initial rounds of the Concacaf qualifying system to even make it to the final octagonal group ... which they then won. They'll be back in 2026 as co-hosts. From perennial afterthoughts to Concacaf powerhouses in a single cycle is something to be proud of.

Let's get to some links:

💰  The Back Lines

Best bets

Let's pick some games! All odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.

  • Ecuador vs. Senegal, Tuesday, 10 a.m. ET 
    💰 THE PICK: Over 2.5 (+135). Senegal probably need to win to advance (in theory they could draw and Netherlands could lose by a lot to Qatar and they'd be through) and they don't have a strong striker. That means throwing bodies forward and hoping for the best, That should lead to an open game and a real chance for Enner Valencia -- if he's healthy enough to play -- to keep chasing what would be the most unlikely Golden Boot award in history for Ecuador.
  • Wales vs. England, Sunday, 2 p.m. ET 
    💰 THE PICK: England (-235). I'll grit my teeth and pick the USMNT match tomorrow. For now, let's look at the other match in Group B. England remain one of the favorites to win the tournament. Sure, a draw would get them through, but it would risk them not winning the group. Not winning this group would be a collapse of epic proportions for this England squad, and -235 is not a number that justifies a choke job. Just take the favorite and hope they don't mess it up.